This could also keep tourists away.
Broadway’s complete recovery can’t be declared until tourists are back at pre-pandemic levels, or pretty close to it.
Don’t panic. We can and will have a very successful few seasons until that happens. Remember, pre-pandemic levels of tourism were at an all time super-high, compared to the decade before that. And, if you remember correctly, we were celebrating those tourist numbers back then. So why are we panicking now?
Let me get specific.
The graph and forecast below predicts 2022 domestic tourists #s to be on par with 2016’s. Is that so bad given what we’ve been through? And in case you forgot, 2016 was the year of Hamilton on Broadway. I think we did ok.
That said, we don’t want to do ok, do we?
We got a little tipsy on the tourist traffic from 2019. And the more people who see Broadway shows each year, the better . . . because the word of mouth of the experience of seeing live theater spreads faster if more people experience it. And that not only fuels the economy of Broadway, it energizes the economy of theater all over the world.
So yeah, we want ALL those tourists back and then some.
A lot of people are talking about how the increase in crime in the city may be a deterrent for tourists to come to NYC, especially families.
And those people are right. No one wants to go to the NYC of the 80s and 90s anymore. They will go somewhere else. (And Mayor Adams, if you haven’t been to the area around Penn Station lately – I urge you to go – it feels like you’re entering another decade right now and not a good one.)
But there’s something besides crime that could also keep tourists away and slow our recovery.
And it has to do with my lunch.
I went to my usual lunch spot the other day. I ordered my usual and got an unusual bill. It was much more expensive. Much. I looked at my cashier friend, who could read my eyes. “Everything’s more expensive,” she said, before I could say a thing.
I went to another lunch spot the next day. Same thing. Bigger bill. AND, they served me small portions.
I took an Uber the other night back from Harmony downtown. Or I should say, I almost took an Uber. Because when I saw the $49 proposed fare, I hiked over to the subway.
Inflation is everywhere. The country is experiencing a rise in costs unseen since . . . well those 80s . . . the same ones that had those crime stats that we don’t like to talk about. (Coincidence? I don’t know – I’ll let the economists figure that out.)
So, ok, inflation is all over. But inflation in this city . . . which is already mocked for its high prices? Well that could create another type of word of mouth amongst our tourists that we for sure as heck don’t want.
“I just got back from the city . . . you wouldn’t believe what it cost me for lunch/an Uber/a souvenir t-shirt!”
Airfare alone is already up 20% over pre-pandemic levels.
Inflation sucks. It hurts everybody everywhere. But for cities and industries like Broadway who are in the midst of a recovery, it could be even more painful.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.